Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price knows it’s a tough road from the youth hockey leagues of interior British Columbia to the NHL, so he’s trying to make it a little easier for players who are trying to follow in his footsteps.
Price teamed up with equipment manufacturer CCM to send thousands of dollars worth of skates, sticks, helmets, pads and all things hockey to youth in the area around Williams Lake, B.C., the town where the Habs superstar got his start.
The special deliveries landed at the offices of the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association, where Price played from age nine to 15, three First Nations communities, the local Boys and Girls Club, KidSport, JumpStart and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Pam Povelofskie, administrator for the minor hockey program, said players and parents are excited that “tired and tattered” gear will be replaced for about 18 house league teams.
“I received a huge shipment of boxes that has overtaken my office,” she said, adding the association asked for goalie gear for its atom to midget teams when Price’s father, Jerry Price, emailed about the unexpected gifts.
“As kids get to bantam and midget they tend to have their own sets but there are some kids who need our help so we’re going to be providing them with some brand new shiny equipment,” she said.
Povelofskie said the equipment the association received is worth more money than it could ever afford.
“It would have taken us years to purchase something like this. We do a couple of sets a year, maybe, if we’re lucky.”
Eight-year-old Amdeus Isnardy said he tried out a new pair of goalie pads, gloves and a chest protector at the rink on Saturday.
“I would say, ‘Thank you, Carey Price, for the goalie gear,”’ said Amdeus, who will share the equipment with other novice players.
Bonnie Slack, operations co-ordinator of the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council, said several children in that aboriginal community, the Tsilhqot’in Nation and the Cariboo Chilcotin Tribal Council will be fully outfitted with hockey gear.
“Our five kids received the helmets with the face guards, the shoulder pads, the elbow pads, the gloves, the knee pads, shin pads, skates and sticks,” she said. “It was just awesome.”
Jerry Price said his son didn’t want young players to be held back because of a lack of equipment or old gear that’s been passed on too many times.
“We wanted to make sure that they had good stuff to play with. There’s lots of stuff that we looked at and said, ‘That’s not a good enough pair of skates to play with.”
Carey Price, who spends his summers in his hometown of Anahim Lake, about 320 kilometres west of Williams Lake, has remained connected to the community.
“He wants to make sure that people, and kids especially, know that he hasn’t forgotten and hasn’t just elevated himself to the point where he doesn’t have time for the people who matter most to him,” his father said.
The Habs goalie made the 640-kilometre round trip in the car with his dad to play hockey in Williams Lake three times a week. Then his father put his pilot licence to use and substituted the car for a small plane.
Price, who already funds a breakfast program at his old school in Anahim Lake, will always remember his roots, his father said.
The Canadiens goaltender and his wife Angela are expecting a special delivery of their own around the end of April, when they will become first-time parents.
“I knew I’d be happy, I didn’t know I’d be this excited,” Jerry Price said.